Cup-and-Ring Stone: OS Grid Reference – SE 17746 50923
Takes a bitta finding unless you’ve got a GPS system, or someone like me to show you where it is! The best way’s probably via the Askwith Moor Road car park, up the road 160 yards till you hit the straight line cut into the moor on your right, where the landscape’s been damaged.* Walk along this for less than 100 yards, then walk right, through the heather and onto the singular tree roughly 200 yards away. From here, walk 75 yards (strides) north from the tree. You’re damn close!
Archaeology & History
About 20 feet from a line of ancient walling in an area pretty rich in prehistoric sites, is this medium-sized stone with a lovely cup-and-ring design. The carving was first recorded by fellow antiquarian, Eric Cowling (1937), in his short survey of other carved stones in the area. He called this ‘carving no.7’ and described it, thus:
“In the central area of Snowden Carr is a barrow group, which occupies a slight ridge running from the edge of the bog to the east, almost to the moor road on the west. The ridge is almost devoid of vegetation except at the higher end. Here, on a heather-covered boulder, is marking no.7. The cups are smaller than usual, and only one ring completely surrounds a cup. The lines linking the cups are only lightly incised, and the whole marking has a delicate appearance.”
I first visited this stone in the 1980s with fellow rock art student and author, Graeme Chappell, and for some reason it has always impressed me (I recall Graeme laughing whilst I made joyous noises and stroked the rock, reverentially!). Cowling’s description of the stone as ‘delicate’ is appealing, as the stone and its design has a nurturing aspect to it, female in nature. (forgive me — but many of these stones tend to capture me in such ways!) The stone was described more clinically in Boughey & Vickerman’s (2003) more recent survey as follows:
“Fairly large, flat, smooth grit rock with crack. Up to seventeen possible cups, one with complete ring, one with partial ring, one with possible ring; connecting groove.”
Doesn’t quite capture the feel of the place, which I’m sure they’d admit. The next time I’m up here, I’ll get some better photos of the carving.
- Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS 2003.
- Cowling, E.T., ‘A Classification of West Yorkshire Cup and Ring Stones,’ in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 1940.
- Cowling, E.T., Rombald’s Way: A Prehistory of Mid-Wharfedale, William Walker: Otley 1946.
- Cowling, E.T. & Hartley, C.A., ‘Cup and Ring Markings to the North of Otley,’ in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 33, 1937.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Huge thanks to one of my fine ladies, Inmaculada Ibanez-Sanchez, for the drawing! Cheers Inma!
* A pipeline was laid across the moor here, and subsequent work (I presume by the same company) was done again in early 2011, cutting through and damaging several prehistoric monuments and destroying at least one prehistoric cairn. An archaeological survey of the region should have been done before any work proceeded here, but I’m unaware of any such excavations, or archaeological reports preceding or concurrent to the ecological and historical damage performed.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian